school construction

Republicans Call for Investigation Into School Construction

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Republicans are calling for a bipartisan investigation into how the state has been handling school construction projects.

Some of those projects are the subject of an FBI investigation.

“This is not going to go away. It’s going to overshadow the entire session,” House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora said.

Candelora said there are questions lawmakers need answered about how the state spent $1 billion over the past three years.

“We need to look at the school construction process especially as it dealt with demolition. Also look at our no-bid process,” Candelora said.

Kostas Diamantis, deputy secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, who was in charge of school construction and other projects for the state, was fired in October. The FBI has subpoenaed documents related to projects he oversaw along with the State Pier in New London.

Lawmakers say it may be a situation that costs local residents.

“It’s their money that may have been wasted, misappropriated,” Rep. Holly Cheeseman (R-East Lyme) said.

Cheeseman said taxpayers should care about this.

“So if I know there was a bid where someone was paying above what they should have done that’s coming out of my taxpayers pocket and that’s why every citizen who pays taxes in this state should be concerned,” Cheeseman said.

Democratic lawmakers said it should be investigated, but by committees that already oversee the program. They said it was “naïve” to think the state could launch an investigation parallel to the one being done by the feds.

The governor's office issued a statement on the matter.

“The Lamont administration would welcome public hearings into the school construction program by the General Assembly’s committees of cognizance.  Additionally, the Lamont administration has and will continue to be cooperative with federal authorities in a separate investigation. Governor Lamont took swift action to remove Mr. Diamantis when ethical improprieties were brought to his attention. It was also Gov. Lamont’s initiation of an independent review which led to additional accountability. Gov. Lamont has zero tolerance for the types of actions which have been exposed," said Director of Communications Max Reiss.

In a statement, House Speaker Matt Ritter and Majority Leader Jason Rojas said: 

“It absolutely makes sense for the executive branch to come before our legislative committees and talk about where the school construction program stands now, any changes that have been made, and any improvements that are needed."

“I’m concerned about this administration’s forthcomingness about how they do business,” Candelora said.

“Do you stand with corruption? Or do you stand with good government?” he added.

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